Community college aid forecast cloudy

File photo

A view of the Columbia-Greene Community College campus in Greenport.

GREENPORT — Despite projections in April that schools could face a 20% cut in state aid, there has been no definitive information on what state aid will be available, Columbia-Greene Community College President Carlee Drummer said Wednesday.

“We can’t even speculate about when that might be coming,” Drummer said.

The college had been anticipating to hear more about state aid in early July, she said.

“We don’t really have any guidance from SUNY about when they might expect [that answer],” Drummer said.

Columbia and Greene counties make one-third of the financial contributions to the college based on student enrollment, Drummer said.

The other two-thirds of the college’s financial support come from state aid and tuition and fees.

“We have talked with both the Greene County legislators and Columbia County supervisors about whether or not they can support us at the same level as last year,” Drummer said. “We are not asking for any increase.”

Greene County will likely have a decrease because the county had fewer students attend in 2019 than in 2018, Drummer said.

Student enrollment in fall 2019 consisted of 599 students from Columbia County, 553 from Greene County and 304 students from outside of the Twin Counties.

By percentage, the student body consisted of 41% Columbia County residents and 37.9% Greene County residents, Drummer said.

In fall 2018, the student body consisted of 39% Columbia County residents, 39% Greene County residents, 21% from other areas of New York and less than 1% from out-of-state.

The 2019-20 budget for the college was $17.24 million.

For the current fiscal year ending 8/31/2020, Columbia County is contributing $3,454,977 and Greene County is contributing $3,293,373.

Legislator Michael Bulich, R-Catskill, said at the County Resources meeting in July that the college had made significant reductions in personnel.

“We did have a reduction in staff,” Drummer said. The college laid off 16 part-time employees.

There are no plans to cut class offerings at this time, Drummer said.

Cutting classes would put the college in a tenuous situation because it could affect enrollment, Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said.

Another idea that has been proposed is a modest tuition hike, Groden said, adding that he believed it was 3%.

The increase has not yet been approved by the board of trustees, Drummer said.

“The proposal we are making is very minor and we are still one of the most affordable community colleges in the region,” Drummer said.

Despite the recommendation, the rate of increase, if any, will be determined by the board, Drummer said.

Greene County is scheduled to approve its contribution to the college’s budget on Aug. 19, Drummer said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

(1) comment

scottmyers

If you think education is expensive try ignorance.

Obviously, the new $90 million debt obligation for a jail is the problem. VanValkenberg resigned as Highway Superintendent because he couldn’t get money for half the projects he needed, couldn’t get updated employment contracts.

The county finds itself in financial trouble, and a declining per-capita and population. There’s a ridiculous 38% public sector employment. Nothing’s planned to correct these problems.

A practical solution is to convert the monster in Coxsackie, the new jail, into a medcial/treatment facility. Another is to repair 80 Bridge Street and put the sheriff back where he’s supposed to be (Loval Law § 216).

As a medical facility it can receive federal, stant and Opioid settlement funds. As a county jail it cannot. Repairing 80 Bridge Street solves the legal problem of moving the Sheriff’s Office, saves a property worth $1.85 milion, saves the dempolition costs, and keeps a historic building rather than creating another non-income producing parking lot.

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